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Oklahoma Governor Calls for Resignation of Officials Caught Discussing Killing Reporters and Lynching Black People

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has called for the resignation of several McCurtain County officials after leaked audio revealed discussions of killing reporters and lynching black people.[0] The officials named in the audio include McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy, District 2 Commissioner Mark Jennings, Investigator Alicia Manning, and Jail Administrator Larry Hendrix.[1] The audio was recorded after a county commissioners meeting in March and was later released by the McCurtain Gazette-News.[2] The newspaper has also turned the full audio over to the FBI and the Oklahoma Attorney General's office.[3]

In the audio, the officials can be heard discussing the murder of local reporters and expressing a desire to return to the days of lynching. Jennings even mentions “two or three hit men” he knows in Louisiana who “would cut no f*** mercy.”[2] The discussion then turns towards potential candidates for sheriff, with Jennings saying he would run for sheriff if it were still like “back in the day” when a former sheriff would “whoop” black men and throw them in jail.[4]

Governor Stitt has condemned the officials' remarks, stating that “there is simply no place for such hateful rhetoric in the state of Oklahoma, especially by those that serve to represent the community through their respective office.”[4] He has called for the resignation of Clardy, Manning, Jennings, and Hendrix, and hundreds of people have come out in protest.

The McCurtain Gazette-News has stated that this is the first of three audio recordings they plan to release.[5] The full audio recording from reporter Bruce Willingham will be released at a later date.[2] The McCurtain County Sheriff's Office has released a statement on Facebook about the incident, but it is unclear if any further action will be taken.[6]

0. “OSA Board of Directors unanimously vote to suspend some McCurtain County officials” KOCO Oklahoma City, 18 Apr. 2023, https://www.koco.com/article/oklahoma-mccurtain-county-sheriffs-association-suspend/43636139

1. “Oklahoma governor calls for resignations after county officials reportedly discussed killing journalists, hanging Black people” The Hill, 17 Apr. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/3955209-oklahoma-governor-calls-for-resignations-after-county-officials-reportedly-discussed-killing-journalists-hanging-black-people/

2. “FBI investigating GOP Oklahoma officials caught on tape talking about lynching Black people, murdering newspaper …” Heartland Signal, 17 Apr. 2023, https://heartlandsignal.com/2023/04/17/fbi-investigating-gop-okla-officials-caught-on-tape-talking-about-lynching-black-people-murdering-newspaper-reporters/

3. “FBI Investigating Alleged Death Threats Made By County Officials Against Oklahoma Newspaper Reporters” news9.com KWTV, 16 Apr. 2023, https://www.news9.com/story/643c8027600c0b072e7b2dc6/fbi-investigating-alleged-death-threats-made-by-county-officials-against-oklahoma-newspaper-reporters

4. “Oklahoma county leaders caught on audio talking about killing reporters, complaining they can no longer lynch Black people” CNBC, 18 Apr. 2023, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/04/17/oklahoma-county-leaders-caught-on-audio-talking-about-killing-reporters-complaining-they-can-no-longer-lynch-black-people.html

5. “McCurtain County Sheriff, Commissioners audio: Lynching, hiring hitmen” Oklahoman.com, 17 Apr. 2023, https://www.oklahoman.com/story/news/state/2023/04/17/mccurtain-county-sheriff-commissioners-audio-lynching-hiring-hitmen/70122140007/

6. “McCurtain County community, Idabel mayor demand resignations of county officials” 2 News Oklahoma KJRH Tulsa, 17 Apr. 2023, https://www.kjrh.com/news/local-news/mccurtain-county-community-idabel-mayor-demand-resignations-of-county-officials

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